Monday is a Virtual Cash Mob at Battenkill Books, my local bookstore in Cambridge, N.Y. Local businesses are fighting back against the monster that Black Friday has become as the Corporate Nation devours the Thanksgiving holiday along with media, politics, culture and health care. You can purchase any of my books, or those of fellow writers Jenna Woginrich, Megan Mayhew Bergman, and James Howard Kunstler. We will sign and personalize any books bought through Battenkill Books. You can call the bookstore at 518 677-2515 or visit them at www.battenkillbooks.com. They take Paypal and ship anywhere in the world.
A farm is an evolution, really, life shaped over time, experimentation, revolving around food. When Rocky was here, the farm was broken into several parts – he had his own area to graze, eat, find shelter. The sheep and the donkeys were not yet used to one another, and so we had food, water, shelter in three different areas. Morning and evening chores took nearly an hour, and we had several heated water buckets, feed bins.
We have been withdrawing hay and water from different areas, concentrating both on the main feeder and this morning, for the first time, the sheep and the donkeys were all eating and watering in the same place. The sheep are also holing up in the Pole Barn with the donkeys when it rains or snows and at night.
This is a major step forward for this farm, a very significant move towards control and efficiency. It took several years at Bedlam Farm for all of these different elements to come together, and we have more work to do. But Ben’s work, our planning, our experimenting are coming together. The farm is becoming efficient. We are using less hay, filling one bucket, cleaning one area. Friday, Ben is coming with a tractor and some gravel to spread around the Pole Barn and hay feeders, giving the animals clean and firm footing around the feeder, which is already getting muddied up and warn. Then we will be ready for the winter.
Will Lindenoll, the electrician, put new fire-safe lights in the barn and put a sensor light up on the barn roof. That will conclude the work on the farm until Spring. It is hard to even remember what the house and pasture looked like – broken fencing, the collapsed barn, the work necessary for the house. We have come a long way in a short time. Now, time to do our work, prepare for the winter, settle into our life. A farm is an evolution, and we reflect the evolution of the farm. For me, the farm is the Mother, it comes first.
It is a never-ending and creative challenge. Ours is feeling like a good farm, well-organized, clean, secure and functional. The second farm I have had the privilege of studying and planning, this time with Maria. It is a joy.
Our new home is in the flight path of many thousands of Canadian Geese, who come over our pasture every morning and evening, honking in their amazingly complex and disciplined formations. They make a lot of noise, and to us, they signal the coming winter and the new start every morning brings, the new chance to live life.
Minnie is affectionate for a barn cat. I got Minnie from a waitress at a restaurant in Salem, N.Y. She had some feral kittens she wanted to find homes for and I wanted a companion for Minnie. Maria was having lunch with me several years before either of us got divorced and she came with me to pick Minnie up in a tiny hamlet near the Vermont border. They have been tight ever since. Minnie’s day begins with a cuddle from Maria and then she moves on to the mayhem and mystery of the barn cat.